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What you should know about a gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) test.

A gamma-glutamyl transferase or GGT test helps to calculate the amount of GGT present in the blood. Simply, a GGT is an enzyme present that is all over your body, but it is generally found in the liver. When your liver is damaged, GGT might leak into your bloodstream. Higher levels of GGT present in your blood denote liver disease or damage to bile ducts. Bile ducts are the tubes that contain bile fluid formed by your liver and necessary for digestion.

A GGT test won’t diagnose a specific cause of liver disease. It should be done with or after liver function tests or alkaline phosphatase or ALP test. So, ALP is another kind of liver enzyme that can be used for diagnosing bone disorders and liver disease.

What is it be used for?

A GGT test is generally used to:

  • Detect liver disease
  • Know whether liver damage has occurred due to a bone disorder or to liver disease
  • Screening or evaluating alcohol use disorder
  • Checks for blockages in bile ducts

Why would I need a GGT test?

You might require a GGT test if you have symptoms of liver disease. Some symptoms are the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Weakness
  • Swelling or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice that causes your eyes and skin to become yellow

You might need this test when you have unusual results on an ALP test or other liver function tests.

What happens in a GGT test?

The healthcare professional will take a blood sample from a vein into your arm with a small needle. Once the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood is collected into the vial or test tube. You might feel little sting.

Will I require preparation for the test?

You do not require any special preparation for a GGT test.

Are there any risks associated with a GGT test?

There is little risk involved with a blood test. You might have slight bruising or pain where the needle was inserted but this should soon resolve.

What will the results mean?

If the results show higher than normal levels of GGT, liver damage might be suspected which can be due to:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Cirrhosis
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Alcohol abuse
  • heart failure
  • Side effects of drugs that can lead to liver damage

The results cannot point to the condition you have but it may identify liver damage. The higher the level of GGT, the more the damage to the liver.

When the results indicate normal or lower levels of GGT, liver disease is not present.

The results might be compared with that of an ALP test. With the help of ALP tests, bone diseases are diagnosed and the results will indicate:

  • Higher levels of GGT and ALP meaning the symptoms are probably due to liver disorder and not bone disorder.
  • Greater levels of ALP and normal or lower levels of GGT denote it is more probable you suffer from bone disorder.

If you have any questions about the test results, then it is suggested that you talk to a health care provider about it.

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